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Vermont officials seek to mobilize opposition to food stamp proposal

  • Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan in an undated photograph. (VtDigger - Morgan True)



Associated Press
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. — State Attorney General TJ Donovan and anti-poverty advocates sought Wednesday to mobilize opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the federal food stamp program that they say will take away benefits from more than 5,000 Vermont households, including 4,000 children.

The proposed changes would cost Vermont families about $7.5 million in food benefits, Donovan and advocates said at a news conference. The changes to Vermont’s program — known as 3SquaresVT — also would affect children’s access to free and reduced-price meals at schools, Donovan said.

“This is so basic that we should all be outraged, that we’re taking away food from children and the elderly and it’s in the name of our federal government,” he said. “Let’s do something about it.”

Donovan and others asked Vermonters to send comments against the proposal to the federal government by Sept. 23 through the Hunger Free Vermont’s website.

Nationally, about 3.1 million people would lose food stamp benefits under the proposal to tighten automatic eligibility requirements. The U.S. Agriculture Department said in July that the rule would close a loophole that enables people to become eligible automatically.

But Vermont state Sen. Debbie Ingram, a Democrat, disputed that argument, giving examples of people who would lose their food benefit, such as a 27-year-old single mom with an infant who makes just over $22,000 or a 71-year-old grandmother with an income of $30,000, who has custody of her 10-year-old grandson.

“I think this is cruel and unusual punishment for those living in poverty,” she said.

Vermonters who are donating to the Vermont Foodbank and Hunger Free Vermont cannot make up the difference, said John Sayles, CEO of the foodbank.